Two minds on every problem: how job sharing benefits our people and our business

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Lucy Carter and Debra Dean job share as Senior HR Business Partners in our HR team. They support our UK&I Advisory business, partnering with senior leaders to create and embed their talent strategy to ensure employee engagement is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. They use their extensive knowledge of HR best practices to guide and shape better talent conversations.

Here, Lucy and Debra explain the benefits of job sharing for them and our business.

Why did you want to job share?

Lucy: I wanted to take on more responsibility at work, having been at EY in HR for 12 years, while still being able to spend time with my daughter. With EY’s forward-thinking views on flexible working practices and, in particular, job shares, it seemed the natural next step for me.

Debra: I worked in HR leadership for 15 years and when my second child was born, I became a self-employed HR Consultant/Business Partner. I enjoyed the flexibility that this way of working provided, especially with a young family at that time. For my next role, I wanted to balance the career-progression advantages of a permanent position while enjoying the freedom that flexible working arrangements allows. When the EY position was advertised it was the perfect fit.

How does your job share work?

Debra: Lucy works Monday to Wednesday and I work Wednesday to Friday. On Wednesdays we are both in the office which means we can spend time together and jointly meet with our teams and stakeholders. We've seen job shares done in different ways, such as sharing responsibilities or tasks. We wanted to own the role together.

Lucy: The business gets six days' worth of work with two minds coming to every problem. We have different backgrounds and experiences and working together means we can find a better answer than working alone. We like to think we are delivering a seamless HR business partnering approach for our stakeholders and team.

Debra: Our ability to handle pressure is better. We have a peer to talk things over with, who understands all the details of what we're working on. This is a senior-level job and it can be demanding, but I feel a lot more relaxed compared to roles I've had elsewhere in my career.

Lucy: Leading a team as a job share is different, but we've jointly built relationships. We have individual counsellees and hold joint feedback sessions and team meetings.

Are you using technology to help you?

Lucy: We are both advocates of new technology and are always looking at how we can adopt digital solutions.

Debra: We've got a shared mailbox, so people email us both. This means we have access to everything the other sends which saves us time and helps us manage relationships with our clients and deliver what they need.

Lucy: We've embraced Microsoft OneNote too, so we have access to each other's meeting notes and actions. It reduces the need to have a handover, making us more effective. No more physical notebooks!

Are you seeing work pattern changes across EY?

Debra: Yes. We work with Advisory, who are already embracing different ways of working. From our perspective having a suite of flexible ways of working in EY means we can help create an exciting HR strategy for everyone – including contractors, part-time workers, people who are looking for career breaks, apprentices, and of course job shares.

Lucy: The working world is going through a significant period of change and will continue to do so. We're going to see a much bigger mix of different working patterns. It's an exciting time in HR, and it’s good that we’re in a position to be able to advise EY's leadership team on this. Client-facing teams are becoming more interested in job sharing. They're realising it's a way to offer flexibility while still meeting their clients’ complex requirements.

What advice would you give people embarking on a job share?

Debra: It's important to work with someone whose decisions you respect.

Lucy: You've got to trust that the other person is going to cover everything they can on the days they're working. You can't leave something difficult for the other person, and you can't check your emails when you're not in the office.

Debra: It means you really do switch off when you're not working. It's a great work-life balance.